‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread…

The Gulf Coast states from Florida on over to Louisiana is where the sugarcane grows; you’re in cane syrup and molasses country. Sugarcane is responsible for the famous Southern Sweet Tooth, and most folks think the old fashioned molasses pie was responsible for what we know today as Pecan Pie- and where would be without that? Sugarcane is the number one cash crop in Louisiana, molasses is made by milling sugarcane and sugar beets together, it takes an astounding one ton of sugarcane to make just five gallons of molasses! So… what does that have to do with this gingerbread – well… this adaptation of an old gingerbread recipe calls for one full cup of molasses! And it’s full of spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper along with coffee and cocoa- we southerners have always loved our spices! Then, for good measure- this one also uses the zest of several oranges and at least half a jar of orange marmalade and who would argue that southern states like Florida produce bumper crops of citrus! When I was tweaking this recipe- I recalled how my grandmother wouldn’t let a grain of sugar near her cornbread but occasionally she would butter me a slice straight from the oven and say- ‘Put some of that marmalade on it!’ And oh..  it was so good! I don’t recall eating gingerbread very often- mainly it would be a wintertime cake topped with a lemon curd… any citrus does seem to brighten up a winter day! And… while I was at it? Why not make a cream cheese frosting- the classic for Carrot Cake- another wintertime favorite!

So! that’s how ‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread came about! Now, you don’t even have to put frosting on it- it’s good with orange marmalade or on it’s own. And since molasses is nutrient rich- and the spices tend to settle a queasy stomach- you might even get away with calling it health food…It’s a dense rich cake filled with enough spices to make the whole house smell wonderful, maybe seem a bit warmer and have a little something sweet on hand! Here’s how you make it: 

 

'Where the Sugarcane Grows' Gingerbread

A moist spicy gingerbread, glazed with orange marmalade while warm then topped with cream cheese icing.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup molasses thick and dark
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated preferred
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs large lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot strong coffee
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest or the zest of one small orange
  • 6 oz. orange marmalade

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 one pound package of confectioner's sugar sifted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add molasses mix well. Add eggs, mixing well, then add vanilla extract. Sift flour, salt, cocoa, baking soda and spices together. Add dry ingredients- in 3-4 portions mixing well. Add hot coffee and orange zest to mix. Mix thoroughly but do not overmix ingredients. 
     Put mixture into a 9x9 well greased baking dish, bake 30- 40 minutes, or until center is still slightly moist. (If you prefer to make a gingerbread loaf, add an extra large egg; butter and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for up to one hour.)  Remove gingerbread from oven, allow to cool slightly then glaze with 3/4 cup of orange marmalade being generous. When the gingerbread has cooled- frost with Cream Cheese Icing.  

For Cream Cheese Icing

  • In a mixer cream softened butter and cream cheese, add vanilla extract. Then mix in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly mixed and fluffy. Ice glazed Gingerbread. * May decorate with thin strips of orange zest. Chill iced gingerbread for 15 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Gingerbread often dries out quickly, the glaze and icing help keep it moist. After the initial chilling, any leftover gingerbread should be wrapped with plastic wrap and covered. Makes 9-12 servings. This is a very spicy gingerbread that I think you will enjoy.

Next time you feel like you need a bit of spice in your life – I hope you’ll try… ‘Where the Sugarcane Grows’ Gingerbread.  And as always…

Love y’all, Camellia

* If you want to make a loaf cake- add an extra egg and an extra 20 minutes more bake time, just don’t peek while it’s baking or it will fall! Or, if you prefer more of a bar cookie- pour the batter in a 10x 15 inch sheet pan- seriously reducing the bake time… just until the center is almost set. Cut in cute shapes or squares… oh just do whatever you want to!

*All photographs are mine.

Camellia’s Classic Cheese Straws…

If there was a manual for Camellia’s Academy of Fine Arts for Polite Society, there would be an entire section devoted to the proper menus for afternoon teas, bridal showers, various receptions and occasional celebratory parties. And, you may count on Classic Cheese Straws making an honorary appearance on each and every menu. Southern Cheese Straws have been the subject of hot debate for decades…every town has at least one sweet soul who takes great pride in producing the very best cheese straws. Okay, it’s not a hot debate, it’s more like a warm undercurrent. Someone remarked recently, ‘Why, I haven’t made a cheese straw since Captain and Tennielle sang Muskrat Love, I never could get them to crisp up like Gaynelle always could.’  I can’t say I blame her!

Here’s why:

  • Some say it’s too humid right now for making a decent cheese straw.
  • Others think it’s because a certain baker never shared her grandmother’s recipe on her momma’s side, I think it was a deathbed promise.
  • Then, some recipes survive, however the oven temperature tends to vary or a critical ingredient is missing.
  • Even the fact you must be in possession of a proper cookie press has mysteriously been left out.
  • In fact, it must be said-  Blessed is the bride who receives a fine metal cookie press at her kitchen shower and-
  • Far more than blessed is the southern hostess who has inherited her great aunt Bessie’s cookie press which had her famous cheese straw recipe hidden inside the tube.

I’m not exaggerating here. Classic Cheese Straws are highly prized and the one who literally pressed on through the ages- surviving even ‘Muskrat Love’ persists until this day! Still. I’m not going to tell you my cheese straw recipe is the best, I could get into a lot of hot water! I am going to tell you that this recipe is one of my favorites. And! I personally love southern cheese straws so much that I generally make a double recipe at least twice a year and they’re squirreled away in my freezer. I pull out what I need, put them on an ungreased sheet pan and allow them to thaw slightly and bake as directed. Winter is a great time to make cheese straws, but as my friend who probably does make the best cheese (because she does have a genuine handed down recipe) told me recently…’They won’t get crisp if you bake them on a rainy or humid day’. I agree. Try this recipe- I haven’t left anything out.

Join me in keeping this wonderful tradition alive- it’s an heirloom recipe. It’d be a shame for polite society if the tradition didn’t survive, especially if you live, like I do,  where cheese straws are always welcome and the sugar cane still grows.

Love y’all, Camellia

 

Camellia's Classic Cheese Straws

An old classic cheese straw for teas, showers, receptions or parties!
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese grated= *do not use pre-grated cheese!
  • 1 stick salted butter if you use unsalted add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to sifted flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  • In a food processor, grate sharp cheddar and chilled stick of butter- doing this in batches if necessary. Put cheddar mixture in a large bowl, covered with plastic wrap and leave overnight to soften- do not refrigerate at this stage. Sift together flour, cayenne, paprika and salt (if using unsalted butter). With clean hands, mix dry ingredients into softened cheese and butter- mixing very well until mixture is smooth.  On ungreased sheet pan, in batches, put dough through a cookie press with a star tip in approximately 4 inch strips. (If you don't have a cookie press- the dough can be rolled with a bit of extra flour and cut into narrow strips.) Placement is approximately 1/2 inches apart. When sheet pan is filled, chill the pressed dough briefly to retain better shape as they bake.
    Preheat oven to 350. Bake 15 minutes, checking after 12 minutes. Cheese Straws should be dried out but not browned. Remove to a wire rack to cook. Keep in an airtight container. Makes 4-6 dozen.   

Notes

The best cheese straws are put through a cookie press, using the star plate. If you choose another design, adjust cooking time.

* all photographs are obviously mine. Williams Sonoma sells a wonderful sturdy cookie press. I also found several good all metal cookies presses sold on Amazon. *Camellia’s Academy of Fine Arts for Polite Society does not exist- though it’s crossed my mind…

Camellia’s Cottage Cookies

Not a lot of cookies are made here at the cottage. Okay, I make shortbread cookies, they’re my favorite plain and also I’ve have experimented with add ins like pecans or orange zest, have even made a variation with brown sugar and pecans as a unique shortbread, but that’s about it for cookies. I do admit to enjoying bar cookies and the ease of making them,. yet I’ve wanted another cookie to add to my repertoire, if it’s a go to recipe that’s a bit different, with a crisp crumb and a bit of texture added, and of course loaded with southern flavors.

I ran across a cookie recipe- from a community cookbook that I’d kept for over 20 years- it called for walnuts and a few other things I knew would have to change before it would be a cookie I thought would taste good and be worth the time and effort. Now… the baker had called the recipe- ‘World’s Best Cookie’. Southerners do tend to exaggerate when it comes to making up a title for their recipes…everything is – Best, Delight, Divine or named, King or Queen– after Royalty or a famous ranch for all I know… Still. I wondered about this world’s best cookie…it did sound good, and except for the walnuts, had solid southern flavors. I’ve been clearing out my pantry for a fresh start to the new year and I had all of the ingredients on hand. You might have them too!

 I tweaked the old recipe and what do you know? It’s a really good cookie. World’s Best, who knows? Still. For me to put our name on it- well, it’s has to be good!

I’ve named these cookies simply Camellia’s Cottage Cookies… easy to make, even easier to enjoy and the easiest to share! Otherwise… well, let’s just say I was standing there eating them one after another thinking- ‘I’ve got to get these cookies out of here!’  Hope you’ll try them. As always…

Love y’all, Camellia

Camellia's Cottage Cookies

A truly good cookie that has everything but the kitchen sink- pecans, oats, coconut and even corn flakes! The butter makes the texture light and crisp.  It's a great after school snack or with all that fiber even a quick breakfast treat with a piece of fruit of course...
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup regular or frosted corn flakes lightly crushed
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats not quick or instant
  • 1 cup shredded coconut unsweetened is best
  • 3/4 cup coarse chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter I use salted, if you don't add 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar may use light brown
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg- lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda sifted with flour
  • 4 cups all purpose flour

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, toss to combine- lightly crushed corn flakes, rolled oats, coconut and pecans. Set aside.  With a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light, about 4 minutes. Add beaten egg, mix well- then add vanilla and almond extracts, beating well. Slowly add vegetable oil until well incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer.
    By hand, carefully add mixture of corn flakes, oats, coconut and pecans. Then, add one cup at a time of the sifted flour mixture. Be gentle but mix well. 
    Drop by rounded tablespoons on ungreased sheet pans. Flatten each ball of dough with a fork dipped in water - making a cross hatch pattern.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 14-15 minutes. Check cookies after 12 minutes. Bake until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Notes

I had frosted corn flakes in my pantry and they worked just fine! It's important to cream the butter, sugars, egg, extracts and oil in the correct order- and to do this with a mixer. Folding in the mixture of oats, flakes, coconut and pecans must be done by hand to have that wonderful texture. Depending on the size cookies you make- adjust the baking time accordingly. These are truly good cookies!

*all photographs are mine!

A Fresh Start for 2019!

I think we’re all ready for a fresh start after the holidays each year. By fresh start, I don’t mean getting rid of everything….more that I prefer to refresh, renew and repurpose what I already have, even what’s worked previously but for some reason has fallen by the wayside in the middle of … well, life. I try not to set goals that honestly set me up for failure, especially when it comes to exercise. Why? Ok, I’m not proud of the fact that I’m not athletic… one of the top posts here was written in the first year- it’s called Instinct or Fitness which regales a few of my various mishaps. Not included was a more recent splat on a sidewalk in upscale Georgetown DC. I literally tripped on an uneven sidewalk about an hour after I arrived with my family. I had made reservations for our first tour- a moonlight ride through our nation’s capitol of the iconic monuments that evening. We had to re-schedule the wonderful tour due to my less-than-graceful splat  on the sidewalk! In fact, our first tour of D.C. was in a large rescue vehicle, the EMT’s graciously let all five of us ride to the hospital! I ended up with a few stitches on my forehead, a seriously sprained arm and a torn meniscus! Once again my fall-back exercise after I finished rehab was the only exercise I’ve ever been able to actually do and that I truly enjoy- Yoga! I have literally worn out 2 yoga DVDs and protect my third one like it is gold! The DVD is from Gaiam and is called Yoga AM by Rodney Yee.

With my first knee surgery, also from an injury, I recovered full rotation of my knee and I believe due to this yoga practice. My yoga practice has been sporadic but always effective and enjoyable for almost 20 years now!

A few years ago, I also became intrigued with the health benefits of meditation, using guided courses but inserting special Scriptures when appropriate to enhance my own meditation. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19: 14 ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.’ This practice of meditation became critical to my well being when I underwent a series of radiation treatments in 2017 to shrink a non-cancerous tumor on my carotid artery. Controlled breathing combined with meditation on special scriptures enabled my anxious and claustrophobic self to not only endure but sail through the treatments with very few side effects! As it turns out, my balance had been affected by my condition which could explain the falls I had! (Finding underlying health issues is important too!) Still.  I’ll never be a great athlete. Finding exercises I will actually do is a priority– yoga is one of those! So! Imagine my delight when Gaiam, a leader in these healthy practices of yoga and meditation along with fine products shared an offer with me, that I could pass along to you! I  think yoga and meditation are great for any age- but especially for folks of…ahem… a certain age like me! It improves breathing, circulation, flexibility, posture and is uplifting and energizing. Best of all, many types of yoga are low impact and can be done in your own home, at your own pace and level of capability, no matter what age you may be.  I am thrilled to extend an offer to you for 19% off all yoga and meditation products along with free shipping on all orders over $49 from Gaiam to jumpstart your 2019 goals! I think you will find yoga and meditation require very little equipment to get started. The main thing is to find exercises you enjoy and will do, yoga, gardening or… kickboxing? I for one am grateful that a yoga DVD from Gaiam is where I began. And it’s where I’m beginning the New Year; for my health and well being will once again start with my Gaiam yoga DVD. All the best with your own fresh start in 2019!

Love y’all, Camellia

* Click through this link to get your 19% discount with Gaiam

Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken…

Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken

My grandmother made a warm lemony stew that she claimed would cure anything. Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken has been an all time family favorite for at least three generations. Cold? Flu? Sore Throat? All of these were soothed by this simple stew. Wait a minute. Nervous stomach, depression and heartache were eased as well, for all I know. What I know for sure is whether we were sick or not, Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken has very few ingredients and what’s amazing is that it turns out so well- Every. Single. Time. And it sure doesn’t taste like medicine! I make no claims of actual medicinal qualities beyond the obvious- we all feel better after eating it! Served simply with tiny soft yeast rolls, a mixed green salad with a creamy lemon dressing- it’s easy enough for weeknight meals yet makes a regular appearance here at Camellia’s Cottage with a simple dessert for Sunday Dinner. Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy new year.

Love y’all, Camellia

Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken

Mimi’s Lemon Butter Chicken

A Lemony Chicken Stew with just 4 main ingredients! Chicken, Potatoes, Lots of fresh Lemon Juice and Butter! 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 split chicken breasts bone in, skin on
  • 3 lbs. 6-8 medium peeled potatoes (such as russet) cut in large chunks
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice do not substitute, may use zest of up to 2 lemons)
  • 1 stick butter, cut in 4-6 segments no substitutes
  • Salt and Pepper generously fresh cracked black pepper preferred
  • 1 quart water may need more to cover potatoes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, pat chicken breasts dry- salt and pepper generously. Place cup up potatoes in a large covered pot. Cover with water, Salt generously. Place Chicken Breasts on top of potatoes, do not cover with water. Pour fresh lemon juice and zest over chicken. Evenly space chicken and place segments of butter over chicken. Salt and Pepper again.  Cover pot with oven safe lid. On stovetop, bring stew to a boil. Carefully remove from heat and transfer covered pot to preheated oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is done. (Falling off the bone is desired.) When done, remove from oven, carefully remove chicken from the pot. Allow to cool slightly. Remove chicken skin and bones.  Shred or chop cooked chicken breasts and return to the pot, stirring in gently with broth and potatoes.  To serve: Remove chicken and potatoes with slotted spoon to a plate, pass small bowls of hot broth. May also be served in large bowls as a stew.  Any leftovers? Reheat and mash potatoes slightly to serve as a soup.

Notes

  • Please do not substitute chicken broth or stock instead of water, this makes it’s own rich broth.
  • You must not use boneless chicken or the broth will not be enriched.
  • Any herbs, seasonings or vegetables beyond what the recipe calls for will change the recipe entirely!

Thank You Notes…

e662cc3e-e8ed-4539-b3c8-8bce54b7c88aA certain type of Southern lady may be thought to be snobbish because she only joins small groups such as sewing circles, book clubs, altar guild or exclusive clubs with limited memberships. I’m here to dispel this ugly rumor. It’s not really about being exclusive, it’s more to do with her ancestor’s obsession concerning proper thank you notes!

Recently, a southern mother was deeply concerned when her daughter signed up for speed dating…‘Marybelle, what were you thinking? Yes, darling I certainly want you to find a suitable match but speed dating? Just think of how many thank you notes you’ll have to write to find Mr. Right?’   Okay. I made that up but it could happen.

Southern mothers do belong to one large group- the one which is simply horrified that cursive writing is no longer part of the curriculum. Penmanship speaks volumes. Fine penmanship, eloquent sentiments and a unique signature spell Culture with a capital C. Sloppy handwriting, fill in the blank notecards, preprinted sayings with a signature which has reverted away from fine cursive writing, not to mention being struck through with mistakes, misspellings and has ink blobs, well…this just reeks of being low and uncouth.

Actually I’m exaggerating a bit here…today’s southern mothers are willing to accept neatly penned and simply worded notes of any kind as long as it’s not mass produced, pre-printed or electronic. Shiver. And! The best southern mothers try to make sure their offspring- male or female- stays well stocked with suitable stationary, pens and notecards with proper envelopes… Some mothers have even stooped so low as to include postage stamps. Save the precious children the price of a postage stamp and remember – metered postage is tacky. So are pre-printed well wishes, sympathy or thank you notes which only require a signature. Tacky is not an image builder. While monogrammed or personalized stationary is preferred- nice blank notecards are suitable for informal notes.

49e6806f-7ea5-4c4d-8f23-083a51f5a079If the all occasion blank notecards are hand embellished- well, it’s better…anything that has a personal touch is acceptable when engraved is simply too formal. I personally received a box of beautiful notecards as a Christmas gift, also I had picked up several packages of informal blank notecards during the past year. With snippets of ribbons found while I was putting away holiday packaging, I decided a bit of embellishment was in order for the thank you notes I still need to write- in my cursive writing of course. Using a paper hole punch placed in strategic locations, I threaded ribbon and even hem tape through the holes and tied them in cute bows.

78c0d6c5-2e97-48d0-8104-f2aee32d724cThat’s all there is to it. Still. I think they’re just precious. Oh my, how I do run on..Now. While I’m at it… and though it’s electronically transmitted– I hope my image won’t suffer too much for saying ‘Thank you’ to all y’all who have graciously followed this crazy blog in the last three years! You’ve made it so much fun for me, I hope we can continue to bring good things to your inbox in 2019 and hey! We’d appreciate it if you’d tell your friends about us too!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

*The hole punch I use is from a scrapbooking kit, however what you may need to embellish your own  notecards is a hole punch with a longer reach than standard hole punchers – like this McGill 2″ reach craft punch from Amazon

Camellia’s Top 5 Posts for 2018…

986867AF-CA67-41B2-908A-A73D38812DCESince New Year’s Eve is known as a time for fireworks and tooting your own horn…we decided to take a look back and see what posts y’all seemed to like best before we declare in the very best southern fashion- ‘That’s all she wrote’ for 2018. To be honest, we were amused to see which ones they were… Given that there’s a whole slew of them… why choose the Top Five? Well, the number five is symbolic of Grace… We consider the fact that you read Camellia’s Cottage- a true measure of grace on your part with every single post-you don’t have to read what we write, when you do- well, it’s a kind and gracious thing to do. Also, our mission statement for writing all of this for nearly three years is to present ‘the wit and wisdom, the graciousness and generosity, artistry and beauty of southern people’ to still be relevant today as it was when we first began.  Then, there is a grace note in music- where you have an extra note…give a little extra trill than the score of music called for- we hope to always give you just a little bit more than you expected- a funny story along with a recipe, a beautiful photograph to accompany a project even a bit of trivia or history in our travels along the way.   So, without further ado… here’s the New Year’s Eve countdown of the top 5 posts for 2018…  Drumroll please…

664CC1A8-ABC2-488A-9B1E-BF13641ED0C6Coming in at Number 5 is none other than Cookbook Therapy… in which I regale my love of reading cookbooks as literature in addition to recipes of course… Find this humor piece at https://camelliascottage.com/2018/01/10/cookbook-therapy/  Enjoy!

686AB121-71E3-4346-A514-BD4E78BB7AE3In 4th place is one of my personal favorites- Going Away Outfits… which recounts the… dare I say, ‘old custom’ when a bride’s trousseau included a suit or nice dress to wear when leaving for the honeymoon! I totally enjoyed this because it includes some very good friends who were very good sports for sharing photographs! Find this one at https://camelliascottage.com/2018/05/19/ This one, honestly tickled me to write!

F895A2E8-131B-48F7-AB7C-440B74AD1833In 3rd place for 2018 was a post actually written in 2017 about a southern girl with Alabama ties- whose become a quite famous actress, none other than Sandra Bullock! This post is about a type of Southern lady whom gentlemen tend to admire, entitled – Smart Sassy and Southern… I totally enjoyed sharing this one with you but was also totally floored that it was in the top 5! Find it at https://camelliascottage.com/2017/02/07/smart-sassy-and-southern/

691B926C-84DC-45D0-9ABF-60CD2446D14FNow, I have to admit I thought y’all loved my grandmother’s cooking and our recipes best of all, however, only one recipe post made the top 5 in 2018! Of course it was a post called Mimi’s Fried Chicken! I shouldn’t be surprised because fried chicken is almost synonymous with Southern Cooking! Find our Number 2 at https://camelliascottage.com/2018/02/03/mimis-fried-chicken/  I was also highly amused that apparently some of you readers and y’all know who y’all are… prefer your own mother’s or grandmother’s methods for frying chicken!

E22814FF-E2B1-4BA0-A634-6C7A1AE175C7In First Place– now really I shouldn’t be surprised at this one- Sinking Spells… This post was also written in 2017 and consistently it has spoken to women all over the place, though I thought originally that Sinking Spells were particular to the South! Find Sinking Spells – our number one post for 2018 at https://camelliascottage.com/2017/06/12/sinking-spells/ I hope it tickles your funny bone on into 2019!

Happy New Year’s Eve! Wishing you good cooking, loads of laughs and lots of kindness ! Thanks for reading and as always….

Love y’all, Camellia

*Photographs are credited in each of the winning blog posts, with the exception of the cookbooks photograph which was not in the original post, however is a photograph taken by me of some of my personal favorites! Blog posts have not been edited but probably need to be! Let me know, which one is your favorite!

*Top photograph of fireworks is obviously mine!

 

Summer Squash for the Winter Buffet…

41A0F588-3FA0-48CD-A5BE-1304DDBB5F0EHoliday Parties are rarely sit down affairs… the best gatherings are winter buffets with pickup foods that are easy to pick up and eat and if utensils aren’t required that’s even better! I hope it goes without saying that I love Southern Food. While we generally have iconic pick up foods on hand such as cheese straws, deviled eggs, pimento cheese, toasted pecans, ham biscuits and even tea sandwiches with simple fillings can be assembled in just a few minutes. Still. Some of my favorite southern foods don’t exactly come in pick up form. Southern flavors like sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese and so many wonderful casseroles. My personal favorite is Squash Casserole; made with summer squash and yellow onions steamed together- bound by eggs and cheese into a wonderful dish that is beloved by all, but certainly not a dish that’s easy to serve for a Winter Buffet. Several years ago, we hosted a party which highlighted southern foods– specifically local cheeses, produce, even preserves, nuts, fruits and honey. A few years later, I decided to have a party at home with even more of my personal southern favorites- Pickled Shrimp to Ham Biscuits to Banana Pudding, Pound Cake and Fried Pies… For this party, I  experimented with a sheet pan frittata – which I called Summer Squash Squares. To be honest, I wanted to include foods that made the buffet taste like a sit down dinner.  That meant getting creative with the taste of a casserole in pickup form!

5CC3BC42-7F96-48FC-98FE-B3DFF64C24E8Summer Squash Squares were a personal favorite for me that night and I think the guests enjoyed it too!  Easy to make, good hot or at room temperature and best of all- no forks required! Here’s how you make a Pick up Food with a Southern Flair!

Camellia’s Squash Party Squares

  • 8-10 cups of sliced Yellow Squash
  • 2 cups of thin sliced Yellow or Spanish Onions
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4-6 slices of Hickory Smoked Bacon
  • 1 small carton Sour Cream
  • 2 cups of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup of green onion tops or scallions
  • 1/2 cup of Self Rising Flour
  • 12 eggs
  • Optional- parsley for garnish

Steam yellow squash and onions in a small amount of salted water- generously adding black pepper while steaming. Drain squash and  onions very well in a colander and allow to cool. On a large sheet pan, oven fry hickory smoked bacon at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until done. Remove, drain on paper towels. Set aside. Drain almost all of the bacon drippings from sheet pan- leaving enough to oil the sheet pan. *Cook bacon on the same sheet pan as the squash squares will be baked on! Chop bacon into medium size crumble. B9DEC5A4-A0F0-48DC-93A6-08B210EE92EE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, add carton of sour cream, 1 and 1/2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese and green onion tops; fold drained squash and onion in carefully- sprinkle flour over mixture and gently stir. Carefully pour the mixture into oiled sheet pan. Sprinkle chopped bacon evenly over top of squash mixture.  Bake 30-35 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and center is set. Do not overbake. Remove and sprinkle the top with reserved 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Allow to cool and cut into 2 inch squares. Garnish with additional green onion tops if desired.


41DBC08B-0BD6-409B-8E4D-F337CF9A70C9Summer Squash Squares were served here at the cottage in 2018 for Thanksgiving and transported well as my contribution to a Christmas gathering which was a Winter Buffet, and the name was shortened to Squash Bites! Easy, pretty and quick enough to make for a New Year’s Eve party, a casual football party and would even be appropriate for a bereavement buffet. During the upcoming chilly and dreary months ahead…why not have a few friends over for a Sunday Supper or a Winter Buffet?  Okay, okay… I know folks are ready for a break from holiday food now… but surely there will be those days when we just wish the fog would lift! And a Winter Buffet may be just the answer for lifting the spirits and a good excuse to gather again!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

*Summer Squash Squares are also wonderful cut in a larger ‘luncheon size’, with a simple side salad, a bowl of soup or a few slices of ham- makes a satisfying light meal. Leftover  squares may also be stored in the freezer and reheated successfully. And… I do also think Summer Squash Squares would be truly delicious all year round!

I hope your 2018 holidays have been happy,  and I continue to be humbled that you read and follow Camellia’s Cottage! Follow us on Instagram! We’ve been posting content that doesn’t always make it to the blog! And…

We’re planning now to bring you more and hopefully even better content in 2019! Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year’s Eve!

 

Camellia’s Christmas Sweets…

B3E430F2-2101-4333-A94A-CB3D14962C14We’ve been busy in the kitchen making Christmas sweets and treats! At the same time, we’re in the process of making some much needed renovations to this site – Camellia’s Cottage! Still. Here’s what we’ve been up to- There’s Classic Christmas Fudge-AEBF7E43-EA8B-47F2-B965-2DD63ECCD080

We intended to make some chocolate truffles but got sidetracked making some adorable Chocolate Mice!21B6FFC3-19C3-4E7C-9E70-A33CC32A99A1

Then, there’s Alabama Pralines… an amazing recipe which doesn’t require a candy thermometer!B707ECBF-D6AF-486E-BEEA-F7D6FF44D5F1

And we couldn’t leave off the old Southern Favorite- Divinity… she’s finicky at times, though this time- this batch turned out pretty as a picture!EAE1B7B2-724D-4C3B-84C5-5C6DC73D95C4

We’ve made Sugared Apricots…A15FB696-1BA3-4E17-AD4B-FC57C390BDED

And! Three batches of Toffee! Amazing how butter and sugar can be boiled up into that luscious golden crunch with milk chocolate or semi sweet and toasted chopped pecans blend into this amazing candy! B3E430F2-2101-4333-A94A-CB3D14962C14

Tomorrow  is pound cake making day, with Mimi’s Pound Cake making a welcome appearance! These will be gifts for some very special family members ! DB7E9C45-1389-4C3B-A4FE-FB8DE38D4125

Hopefully, these Christmas Sweets will be welcome additions on Holiday Tables! I hope your Christmas Sweet and Treat making is going well… would love to hear what you’ve been making!

Love y’all, Camellia

* Follow us on Instagram as we continue the renovations. We’ll continue to share a post or two in the meantime. Then by the New Year, hopefully you’ll find more user friendly recipes and shopping lists too!

*All photographs are obviously mine!

Alabama Pralines…

The Candy Kitchen is open for Christmas at Camellia’s Cottage…couldn’t resist sharing this recipe for Alabama Pralines with you again- I tried it again today and it was a success again! Easy enough for gifts- delicious enough for your very own Southern Sweet Tooth! And while I’m at it- I hope you’ll follow us on Instagram- we’ve been having a good time sharing photographs and tips since before Thanksgiving… you’ll see a few more things there than here! Love y’all, Camellia